A New York state of mind

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This has been quite a year for spontaneous adventures. T had a business trip come up for NYC, so of course, I had to tag along. His official work duties started on Sunday night, so we hopped on a Thursday red-eye for a little long-weekend vacation on our own. Red-eyes are kind of a nightmare, I don’t really sleep on planes and typically crawl off the plane like a zombie. Throw in a time change and it’s no fun at all. And so it was that we found ourselves in JFK at 5:30 in the morning (2:30 our time.) We decided to head to the hotel and hope they took pity on us and let us check in REALLY early.

This was the first thing we saw when we popped up out of the subway station. There’s been a new addition since last time we were here:

NYC1-FirstLook

Unfortunately, the hotel couldn’t check us in early. They did take our luggage, so we were free to wander around the city for a few hours. It was weird to be downtown so early. We had Wall Street all to ourselves:

NYC1-WallStreetI couldn’t resist taking a picture of George Washington, next door to my old gym.

NYC1-GWstatueTo give you an idea of what it usually looks like down here, plus the aforementioned gym, on the right. (They’ve covered up the windows where tourists used to watch Heidi and I on the elliptical. Upgrade!)

NYC1-GymWe decided to take advantage of the early hour and headed over the to the 9/11 memorial. I was trepidatious about it and the walk over didn’t help. You can still see damage on some of the buildings:

NYC1-DowntownDamageThey are building a very cool Calatrava-designed transit center. It’s going to be gorgeous when it’s finished:

NYC1-CalatravaThe memorial was devestatingly beautiful. After so many years of being this big giant scar, it was wonderful to see such a thoughtfully designed memorial. I still bawled like a baby, but there was also a feeling of closure. And at that hour of the morning, it was very peaceful. Pretty much just us and the security guards.

NYC1-Memorial3 NYC1-Memorial2 NYC1-Memorial4The memorial staff places white roses on the birthdays of the deceased. I thought that was a lovely gesture.

NYC1-Memorial5I highly recommend going to the memorial, especially first thing in the morning. I’m really glad I went.

Fueled by plenty of coffee and a bagel sandwich, we continued walking around lower Manhattan. I’d never spent much time in Battery Park, and it’s a super cute neighborhood. There are these tiny, secret little parks amidst all of the buildings:

NYC1-BowlingGreenAnd nice benches where you can rest your weary feet:

NYC1-ToddBenchWe stumbled upon the Irish Hunger Memorial:

NYC1-IrishHungerMemorial NYC1-IrishHungerMemorial2 NYC1-IrishHungerMemorialPathAll of that walking worked up an appetite, so we hit up the Shake Shack.

NYC1-SS

Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones with that idea:

NYC1-SS_lineThe birds of NYC are no fools, they found a very advantageous spot to steal unguarded french fries.

NYC1-SSbirdsWe sampled quite a lot of the menu. Delicious! Not healthy, but delicious! I can’t believe this place was a tiny hot dog cart, back when we lived here.

NYC1-SSfoodFinally, it was time to head back to the hotel and see if our room was ready. I’d read a book written by a hotel front-desk manager with tips on getting an upgrade, so we decided to try it. T handed the front-desk agent checking us in $20 and said “I’d appreciate anything you can do to make our stay special.” or something to that effect. And it worked! She put us in a suite! T was positively giddy as we walked in:

NYC1-HotelIt was a beautiful room. With a nice king-sized bed:

NYC1-HotelBedWith a view of the street on one side:

NYC1-HotelViewDayAnd a view of Brooklyn and the river on the other (I took this image a little later, to capture those pretty clouds):

NYC1-HotelViewEvening

We had a fancy bathroom:

NYC1-HotelSink

With a VERY fancy big bathtub:

NYC1-HotelBathWe knew the best way to get acclimated to the time change was to tough it out and not take a nap. Since that big bed was definitely too tempting to pass up, we took showers, changed and hit the road again. This time, we headed over to the Meatpacking District to check out a cool new food market that T had heard about. We passed a cool “living awning” on the way:

NYC1-GreenAwning

And this rad graffiti:

NYC1-StreetArt

Gansevoort Market is super cool. Tons of great little artisinal vendors and a beautiful seating space:

NYC1-GansevoortMarketThen we headed over the High Line with 700 of our closest friends:

NYC1-Highline2

We passed the new Gehry building:

NYC1-NewGehry

And other architectural gems:

NYC1-HighlineViewT had read about this specialty of Dominique Ansel (the same bakery behind the Cronuts phenomenon), so we headed over to check it out:

NYC1-CookieShotAnticipationIt’s called a cookie shot. And it’s basically a cookie, baked in the shape of a shot glass and filled with special organic, grass-fed milk.)

NYC1-CookieShot1 NYC1-CookieShot2I only had a bite, but holy crap was it good! We took another little break back at the hotel and then headed out to the East Village for a little happy hour:

NYC1-SourHour

And then a fantastic dinner at Momofuku’s noodle bar:

NYC1-MomofukuDinnerMedley

We shared all of the above and everything was delicious. Then it was back to the hotel, a nice soak in the giant bathtub and then finally, much-needed SLEEP!

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